Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills and the Master-Yoda-like-looking animals called Tarsiers. Although these are the touristic highlights of the island, they might not be the most interesting things to see (in our humble opinion). You can also go relax on a beach (some of them are really nice). Panglao / Alona beach is nice but very touristy with restaurants and bars everywhere. Divers and snorkelers will also find some really nice spots (Balicasag for example off Panglao beach). Or, if you are looking for adventure, simply get on a motorbike and go explore small villages lost in the forest.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Singapore to Bohol journey details

The total door to door journey takes 9 hours and 35 minutes from (your home/office in) Singapore to your room in a hotel nearby the Chocolate Hills.
Bohol can be a good destination for a 4 days or more weekend. It will be difficult to enjoy the Chocolate Hills and/or the beach if you have less time.

How much is this going to cost us?

Transport from Singapore will cost you from  SGD 980 return for 2 pax. This includes the taxi flights and car transfer to Sagbayan.

Accommodation wise… You will find a wide range of options in Tagbilaran or close to the Chocolate Hills and in Panglao. From cheap guesthouses to good hotels.

How remote and risky is it?

Bohol is safe. There are no specific risk and you should not have any problem. Medical infrastructures are limited though. Main roads are overall in good conditions. It gets a bit more chaotic if you want to explore the smaller villages by motorbike. Some villages are only accessible by dirt road but all main attractions are accessible via good roads.

What about the kids?

You can take babies, young infants and children to Bohol. The flight is long and there is a connection so that may be a challenge. Once there, you can easily visit the Chocolate Hills or enjoy the beach with them.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Bohol and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April, May, June, July and December. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.

Connections from Bohol

Bohol  can be a standalone destination for an 4 day weekend away from Singapore but you could also combine this trip with Cebu or, if you have more time, discover the amazing Coron Island – Busuanga.

Getting to Bohol from Singapore

Fly from Singapore Changi Airport to Bohol – Tagbilaran (TAG)

There are no direct flights from Singapore. You will need to make a transfer in Manila.

Getting there: Cebu Pacific – Singapore to Manila: 00:55 AM – 04:20AM (3h25 flight) then Manilla to Bohol (Tagbilaran) 06:30 AM– 07:45 AM (1h15 flight)
Coming back: Cebu Pacific – Bohol to Manila 8:25 AM – 9:40 AM then Manila to Singapore 01:30 PM – 5PM.
Return ticket from SGD 390

Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares. Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight (note that Cebu Pacific flights do not always show on Skyscanner results so check on their website directly as well).

Getting from Tagbilaran airport to the city

Arriving in Tagbilaran airport, try to avoid the official transport counter as it will be more expensive. Just walk outside the terminal and you’ll find many taxi drivers and habal-habal, negociate hard. The airport is located about 5 minutes away from the heart of the city.

The airport is also a good option to find a taxi driver that will take you around during your stay in Bohol. A taxi driver will cost you around PHP 2500 /day.
Main roads in Bohol are in good condition so you may chose to rent a private car / motorcycle to drive on your own (car ~ PHP 2000 /day and motorcycle ~ PHP 500 /day). Check out this car rental agency.

Where to stay in Bohol?

You can stay 1 night in Tagbilaran and visit the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier in a 1-day excursion. Then you should better stay either in Panglao if you are looking for beach time and diving. If you stay there, we recommend you to stay at the Amarela Resort. Another less known option (but probably not as nice) is Anda if you rather seek a quieter place where you can go for a motorbike tour and relax on the beach. You’ll find backpacker guesthouses and nice hotels depending on how much you want to spend. Book your accommodation through the Agoda box below

or, if you prefer, with

To see & to do in Bohol

The chocolate hills

This famous place is composed of approximately 1200 cone-shape hills, from 40 to 120 m high. They have different colors depending on the season, towards the end of the dry season (April / May) they will get a brownish milk-chocolate color (hence their name). The rest of the year, they will look green, more like a never ending hilly golf court. You can enjoy the view from 2 different places: the Chocolate Hill Complex in Carmen and the Sagbayan Peak. If you don’t have time to go to both view points, you’d better go to the Sagbayan Peak. Timing wise, you’ll get the best view at sunrise (it can get quiet cloudy in the afternoon and the chocolate hills may turn into a vanilla melted ice-cream).

Carmen is 55km away from Tagbilaran. You can get there:

  • By public bus (Buses run from 5 am to ~ 4pm), there are some direct buses and it will take around 2h to get to Carmen from Tagbilaran.
  • By private car or taxi you can reach Carmen in 1h.

Sagbayan Peak is 75 km from Tagbilaran and 18 km from Carmen view point.

  • By public bus it will take around 2h30 to reach Sagbayan from Tagbilaran
  • By private car or taxi you can reach Carmen in 1h30.

On the way, you can also stop by the Loboc river and check out the hanging bridge.

Tarsiers Research & Development Center

There are a few things you need to know about this endangered species. Tarsiers are small (~15 cm high), they can rotate their head 180°, make 5m-long jumps from tree to tree and live at night (and sleep during the day). The center is quite touristy, you’ll follow a guide on a path and you’ll be able to watch some Tarsiers sitting on a branch. The overall experience is not great, but still, these animals are special.

he Tarsier Sanctuary is less than a half-hour drive from Tagbilaran City, and can be reached by either private or public transport. More info on: www.tarsierfoundation.org
Visiting Hours: Daily from 8AM to 4PM. Entrance fees: PHP 50 / pax. T

Panglao – Alona Beach

Panglao is a peninsula nearby Tagbilaran (Alona beach is 20 km away from the city center) reachable by Jeepney (1h, PHP 25/ pax), Habal-Habal (45 min, PHP 200) or taxi (30 min, PHP ). Panglao is well known for its white sand beaches. If you are looking for a remote place where you’ll be the only one facing the sea, forget about it. But if you want to mingle with tourists, have lunch in one of the beach restaurants, stay in a nice and expensive resort, rent a boat (traditional Bangka) for a day trip of snorkeling or diving,…  this is the place!
While you are staying in Panglao here are few thing to visit: Bohol Bee Farm (organic farm, where you can go for lunch or dinner or stay overnight), Hinagdanan caves in Bingag (PHP 25 / pax), Dauis church in the colonial area.

Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour

Depending on the season you might be able to watch some whales, but don’t count on it too much. Even if  it is not the right season you’ll definitely be able to watch dolphins. Day trip can be organized from Alona beach and you can also ask to add a detour to a snorkeling spot at Balicasag Island / Virgin Island and explore Bohol’s marine life. (Half day boat tour ~ PHP 3000).

Anda Beach and surroundings

Anda beach is located in the North-East part of Bohol, approx. 2h drive from Tagbilaran. This remote & quiet place in Bohol is good if you want to relax. This means no club, no souvenirs shops, and no jet-ski.
If you want to explore the surroundings, you can rent a motorbike in your hotel / guesthouse (~ PHP 100 / h) and get lost in the countryside. Some dirt roads go up in the small mountains. You can make a trip from small villages to small villages if you feel adventurous (for experienced drivers only).

Alternatively you can follow the coast on the main road (in good condition), crossing small villages and reach the Lamanok Caves. Lamanok Island is kind of mystic; you’ll take a small paddle boat (nutshell size) for approx 10 min (for the braves, only). Once you land on the island, you will be guided around the island by a guide telling you mysterious stories… (The atmosphere can be a bit scary but we made it back alive).
If you are more into fishes than witches, you can also arrange a diving / snorkeling day trip to Basdio from Anda.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi

Wifi is available in some of the hotels/guesthouses.

What to pack for Bohol

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Philippines

Philippines

  • Language: Tagalog, English
  • Time zone:   GMT + 8 across the country, no time difference with  Singapore
  • Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)
  • Phone: + 63
  • Electricity: 220V 60 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

To enter the Philippines, a passport valid for a minimum of six months is required.

  • Exemption: If you are Australian, British, Canadian, European or a USA citizen you will not need a visa if you are planning to stay less than 21 days.
  • Visa on arrival: If you intend to stay longer than 21 days or if you are not a citizen from above you may be able to get a Visa on arrival.

Departure tax: You need to pay the airport tax in Pesos. For national flights it varies from 20 PHP to 200 PHP / pax. Children under two years and passengers in transit remaining in the airport are exempt – so keep your 1 airplane ticket if you are in transfer via Manila. For international flights from Manila it  is 550 PHP / pax

National Public Holidays in the Philippines

2015

Day Date Holiday Comments
Thursday January 01 New Years Day Regular holiday
Friday January 02 New Year Holiday Additional special (non-working) day
Thursday January 15 Public Holiday Manila only. Public Sector holiday for Papal Visit.
Friday January 16 Public Holiday Manila only. Public Sector holiday for Papal Visit.
Monday January 19 Public Holiday Manila only. Public Sector holiday for Papal Visit.
Thursday February 19 Chinese New Year Special (non-working) day
Wednesday February 25 EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary A special holiday for all schools
Thursday April 02 Maundy Thursday Regular holiday
Friday April 03 Good Friday Regular holiday
Saturday April 04 Black Saturday Special Non-working day
Thursday April 09 The Day of Valor Marks the the fall of Bataan in World War II.
Friday May 01 Labor Day Regular holiday
Friday June 12 Independence Day Celebrates the Philippine Declaration of Independence
Friday August 21 Ninoy Aquino Day Special Non-working day.
Monday August 31 National Heroes Day Regular holiday. Last Monday of August
Sunday November 01 All Saints Day Special Non-working day
Monday November 30 Bonifacio Day Commemorates the birth of Andrés Bonifacio on 30 Nov 1863
Thursday December 24 Christmas Eve Special Non-working day
Friday December 25 Christmas Day Regular holiday
Wednesday December 30 Rizal Day Commemorates the execution of José Rizal
Thursday December 31 New Years Eve Special Non-working day

* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another. When a Public Holiday falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday. Check on this website